People with developmental disabilities face healthcare disparities

Developmental disabilities are severe, chronic conditions that impair cognitive and/or physical functioning, which manifest before age 22 and result in functional limitations.

By Amy Wallace

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Research shows individuals with developmental disabilities experience significant disparities in healthcare quality, access, status and unmet needs.

Researchers at The Ohio State University conducted a telephone survey of 42,876 adults and 10,122 proxy interviews for children under 18 with developmental disabilities and found that 14 percent of children had problems getting needed care compared to 2 percent in the general population.


Among adults age 65 and older, 50 percent with developmental disabilities reported one or more unmet healthcare needs compared to 17 percent without developmental disabilities.

Researchers found that adults with developmental disabilities were less likely to have a primary care physician that spent enough time with them compared to adults without developmental disabilities. Roughly 83 percent of older adults with developmental disabilities were less likely to have physicians explain things to them.

The study, published today in the Annals of Family Medicine, showed that transitioning from pediatric to adult care can be difficult for young adults with developmental disabilities because of their increased health and support needs.

Researchers urge medical schools to incorporate specific training in developmental disabilities into their curricula to reduce these healthcare disparities.


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